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Dunne celebrates concrete Budget wins

Thursday, 15 May 2003

Dunne celebrates concrete Budget wins

United Future New Zealand leader, Peter Dunne, today expressed his pleasure at the substantive gains the party has achieved in the Government's 2003 Budget.

"Over the next four years, approximately $140 million will be spent by the Government on many initiatives promoted by United Future - some of them in co-operation with Labour," he said.

"Naturally, there are many more programmes we would like to have seen delivered, but as the party of commonsense, we recognise that the voters gave us 8 out of 120 votes in Parliament and we are realistic in our goals.

"Because of the successful and pragmatic relationship we have been able to maintain with the Labour/Progressive government, we have been able to achieve much more than all the Opposition parties put together. They whinge while we work.

"It's called MMP government and United Future is proud to help make it work for the benefit of all New Zealand."

Turning to specifics, Mr Dunne said the jewel in the Budget crown was clearly the $28 million over four years that will fund the Families Commission from July next year.

"I predict this Commission will prove to be a vital cog in our campaign to make New Zealand a better society to live in and in which to raise our children," he said. "Family breakdown costs New Zealand literally billions of dollars a year; this very small investment in the health of our families will prove to be one of the best investments any government has ever made.

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"We were delighted earlier in this term of Parliament to work with Labour to bring in stronger rights for the victims of crime and we are therefore very pleased to see Victim Support is to get an additional $2 million over four years to establish a new district structure.

Mr Dunne said that if there was one area of the Budget that disappointed, it was the lack of any significant tax reform.

"United Future believes hard-working middle New Zealand families and businesses are crying out for tax relief right now.

"I understand the caution of the Minister of Finance in waiting to see if the Budget surpluses are temporary or permanent, but I believe that in waiting until next year, before committing any of the surplus, there is a whiff of Labour's future interests being put ahead of the immediate needs of New Zealanders.

"Nonetheless, we are pleased to be associated with the Labour-led Government's action in reducing the tax burden on employer-funded superannuation schemes. At a cost to the government coffers of $65 million over four years, it is a small but significant move in the right direction," he said.

"United Future also believes that this Budget would have been a good opportunity for all petrol taxes to be spent on roading, rather than disappearing into the Consolidated Fund. We have a transport infrastructure crisis in this country right now and urgent action to overcome it is required immediately."

Mr Dunne paid tribute to the solid work put in by United Future's education spokesman, Bernie Ogilvy, in pushing for adequate resourcing to ensure the NCEA system works properly.

"He pushed successfully for an inquiry by Parliament's education select committee into the NCEA and as a result of that committee's work, the Government has directed funding of $33.4 million over four years to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, plus another $2.3 million over four years to schools delivering NCEA to ensure the better working of the system."

Mr Dunne also welcomed new initiatives pushed successfully by the party in the field of Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

"The Office of Treaty Settlements will get another claims development team at a cost of $895,000 annually to help speed up the process and the Waitangi Tribunal is to get another $2 million over 5 years to ensure all claims are settled under the new casebook method.

"These are small but vital moves to help New Zealand make good progress on Treaty issues, which all New Zealanders would like to see resolved expeditiously and fairly," said Mr Dunne.


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